Sunday, September 28, 2008

Labour is the curse of the drinking classes

With apologies to Oscar Wilde.

Part of the reason for the mistrust of Brown was private knowledge of his excessive drinking, which exacerbated his rude and aggressive style of politics.


Before he interviewed Gordon Brown last week, Andrew Marr talked to Guy Garvey of popular music combo elbow. Of their Mercury Prize celebrations, Marr observed, approvingly, "You're heroic drinkers, aren't you?"

Nick Cohen doesn't go as far as that when he returns to Gordon Brown.

Alistair Darling was Mr Brown's oldest friend in politics. (I doubt if he is now.) The junior minister's crime was to suggest ever so timidly that Labour governments should tax the rich rather than the middle class. The retribution was out of all proportion to the offence. But booze magnifies outrage and concentrates venom.

In fact, he doesn't say Brown drinks at all. He keeps the allegations general: "everyone involved had been hitting the bottle", "If I see a Brown supporter at the bar ordering a beer". But the intention is clear:

I don't believe you can understand the ferocity of the attacks from Gordon Brown's allies unless you appreciate its [the ferocity's -DW] centrality.

Update 2 pm. Phil in the comments suggests that "its" refers not to 'ferocity' but to 'drink' in the previous paragraph: "Drink, once the curse of the labouring classes, is now the curse of the Labour government." I believe he's right. This alters the argument. I thought Nick was arguing that the venom came from the centre of the Brown camp - eg Brown himself, and he was being careful not to finger the PM as a secret toper. However, I now think - thanks to Phil - that he's saying that all Brown's staff are pissheads. Is this a secret plea for the return of Blair and the famously teetotal Alistair Campbell?

Nick started well, "In the last days of Labour..." Boldness is his friend. Labour's got (at least) eighteen months yet, but that's a nicely thrown hatchet. But he doesn't end so well: what on earth are "passive-aggressive spectators" and why are they all female?

BTW, Nick Cohen September 7, 2008:

More recently, George Osborne, of the supposedly compassionate Conservative party, revealed himself to be a playground bully when he derided Gordon Brown for being 'faintly autistic'.

Nick, today:

The reasons for their disaffection are various, but the Brown's macho style is high among them.

Martin Kettle on Wednesday:

His style of politics is not uniquely macho, but it is very, very male indeed. He struggles – certainly in public – to be frank, or honest, or emotionally aware in a way that makes male and female voters identify with him.

Cohen and Kettle are only criticising Brown for excessive maleness, so I don't know if I see a difference between them and Osbourne. Dave Spart covered this two years ago.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, 'its' agrees with 'drink' in the previous sentence. Although the piece purports not to be about booze - heaven forfend! - it's there all the way through, down to the 'barroom brawl' image in the last graf. He's become quite a piece of work, has Nick.

9/28/2008 09:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Check out Rentoul's column.

Anyone see a pattern her?

9/28/2008 12:01:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Thanks Phil, I've updated and noted your reading (which I think is correct).

Anon - yes there is a pattern, and its depressing. There are a lot of things to criticise in this government (the police force, sorry service, in the capital spinning against an innocent man they executed, id cards, a looming recession, unreadable cant posing as debate, etc) and supportive papers should point out government shortcomings. But this looks more and more like a conspiracy, and I'm just glad that most of the press is openly right-wing, because when the left-wing papers start spinning against their own, it's too ugly to watch.

9/28/2008 01:09:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Oh shit. I spelled "it's" as "its". You're not going to see that very often.

9/28/2008 01:22:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Y'know, when the Labour Left used to be unhappy with the leadership around a million years ago now, they didn't "spin" against them (and nor could they have, not having many friends in spinning circles). What they used to do instead was to say so.

This used to be called "a revolt" and was generally considered "damaging".

9/28/2008 03:23:00 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

Michael Gove Watch: in today's Obscurer, describing the Govt as "brawly and beery; no wonder women want out". (the women in question being those of the group of bag carriers who quit in the run up to conference.)

Further, he suggested that a future Tory government might include James Purnell, Andrew "Unelected" Adonis, and Hazel. Fucking. Blears.

Can haz worst case scenario? Thnx!

9/28/2008 03:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nick says: "booze magnifies outrage and concentrates venom."

I don't think he realises how much he is describing himself here, just as in his now-notorious Sarah Palin column, when he said hate is the most powerful force in politics. Maybe for you mate. Some of us actually believe in (oh) solidarity, stuff like that.

9/28/2008 09:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's pretty clear that Gove is now feeding lines to Rentoul and Cohen - not necessarily out of any nefarious conspiracy, but simply because he's still capable of an original thought and they aren't.

9/29/2008 07:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Absolutely - the thing is , Journalists are about sources. Nick burned up all his left wing sources when he went all super right wing, but he has got new friends - Gove & Denis Macshane. While you not may want to read this tripe, this is enough to get him through five years of Tory government as an "insider" hack

9/29/2008 08:02:00 AM  
Blogger flyingrodent said...

And now, for the most depressing sentence that I'll ever type...

Oliver Kamm has an Op-Ed in the New York Times today unfavourably comparing Gordon Brown to Tony Blair.

Can we retire the concept of "meritocracy" yet?

9/29/2008 09:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

unfortunately for some reason blair is fucking loved in the USA by both republicans and democrats. Kamm is just giving them what they want.

It's depressing that Gove is Nick's new source (and he obviously is - well, him and Harry's Place for the ratbiter pieces). Am I the only one who genuinely can't understand why Gove is apparently so 'widely-respected'? He doesn't seem to have any decent ideas in terms of policy, and is a woeful arts journalist.

oh and btw, Celsius 7/7 is currently on remainder in waterstones gower street. as was Terror and Liberalism recently...

9/29/2008 09:38:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

"...and I am pleased".

9/29/2008 09:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

indeed EJH.

9/29/2008 10:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, I'm no fan of Rentoul and as an arch Blairite it is hardly surprising to see him slating Brown. And I don't need to add anything about Nick. However, I've read a large number of stories about Brown's appalling behaviour over the last few months, not all of them from journalists unsympathetic to Brown.

9/29/2008 11:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, and OT but just how bad is this piece at HP.

Some great invective from FR in the comments though.

9/29/2008 04:51:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

I confess I can muster no more interest in the commentary on Harry's Place than I could in the commentary of a troop of monkeys. Although at least the latter might be anthropologically interesting.

9/29/2008 05:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know something has really been troubling me about the Decent left recently.

Why have they had just about nothing to say about the current financial turmoil?

Everyone I know who is on the left finds it fascinating. But no one on the Decent Left seems the least bit interested in these momentous events. The scale of what is happening is astonishing. Major banks folding left, right and centre. Decades of dominant right-wing economic orthodoxy falling apart before our eyes. A wet dream for dialectic materialists everywhere. And wither the Decent Left?

9/29/2008 11:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why have they had just about nothing to say about the current financial turmoil?

Because they can't find a way to use it to bash the left/anti-imperialists/stoppers/LRB/George Galloway etc.

9/30/2008 06:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why have they had just about nothing to say about the current financial turmoil?

It's no surprise - remember the commitment to economic principles espoused in the Euston Manifesto? Nope, me neither. I'm fairly sure HP will have a post up next week about how the 'far left' have said nothing about this, even though they have - much like those sporadic 'why don't the far left care more about Zimbabwe' posts, which are themselves the only HP posts on the subject.

That post on Harry's Place is as dodgy as the Chas Newkey-Burden one they hosted a couple of weeks ago. They genuinely don't seem to care how bad their 'guest posts' are as long as they seem to be vaguely attacking one of HP's pet hates. The comments, other than Rodent's, aren't really worth bothering with, they seem typical of the wll-you-condemn-a-thon, although on that subject there's a pretty good one where the author of the initial post fully condones Operation Rolling Thunder...

9/30/2008 07:52:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

Wasn't that Bob Dylan?

9/30/2008 07:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My favourite is the one that claims the Vietnam war was "more moral" than WW2

9/30/2008 08:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes, seems like only a couple of years ago that the anti-Vietnam war movement was the good anti-war movement, to be contrasted with the evil Stoppers of today. And indeed the NLF were the kind of liberation movement you could support, having nothing in common with the evil headchoppers of today. But I guess a certain kind of logic is being followed through here. Wonder what Norm makes of it all?

9/30/2008 10:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And indeed the NLF were the kind of liberation movement you could support, having nothing in common with the evil headchoppers of today.

This was the Hitch's line wasn't it?

I really think that when you start trying to morally justify US participation in the Vietnam war then you've completely lost your marbles.

I was also amused by David T's assertion that

The only major obstacle that prevents a two state solution from being created is the determination of Iran and its proxies, Hamas and Hezbollah, that a Jewish state in the region be destroyed. If Iran were to stop funding violent rejectionism, the conflict would be over.

I mean to believe this you've either got to be a) clinically insane b) completely ignorant of the history of the conflict c) a hard-line ideologue d) all of the above.

9/30/2008 11:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have a very cynical attitude young man. All those West Bank settlements are clearly a sign of the settler's desire for closeness with their Palestinian brothers and sisters.

Von Pseud

9/30/2008 11:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't forget their clearly noble and admirable desire for closeness with Palestinan trade unionists.

9/30/2008 12:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alex somebody on HP: "Having questions demanded of me across the Internet is as bad as threatening me with dismissal from my job and imprisonment, you know that."

The terrifying question: Whether it was him that had altered a Wikipedia article during the discussion.

Pure gold.

9/30/2008 01:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OT but see letters in the Eye today - Ratbiter/Nick is picked up on no less than two howling errors by, er, one of the sources quoted in the 'Salmond and the evil Muslims' piece. Surely the Eye are going to lose patience at some point?

10/01/2008 11:28:00 AM  
Blogger donpaskini said...

I think it is deeply unfair to say that 'they had just about nothing to say about the current financial turmoil?'

Nick has a piece in the Standard on this very subject today:

10/01/2008 12:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So that is one more 180 degree turn from Nick He used to praise the way the Americans could regulate more strongly than the Brits, post Enron. Now it turns out the Brits were right all along,crawling to the bankers. And the only way out of the current crisis is to crawl some more. And Nick used to complain the bonus millions distorted the London housing market, leaving everyone else up the swannee. Now it seems the bonus "trickle down" was good all along. In summation, only one "decent" is interested in the economy, and that is Nick, whose new take on the economy involves giving up all his critiques of the big money men and embracing Tory arguments while at the Tory conference - yuck

10/01/2008 02:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a fantastic article by Nick who has bravely risen to the defence of unfairly maligned investment bankers and 'hedgies'.

He's right. Where would our economy be without the valuable mullah which filters down to well-fed Lawrence Llywelyn-Bowen type interior decorators?

Any resemblence between the views expressed in Nick's article and discredited right-wing trickle down economics is purely illusionary.

10/01/2008 02:18:00 PM  

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